Industrial/Organizational Behavior Management Ph.D.

The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University offers an industrial/organizational behavior management Ph.D.


  • Students without M.A. degrees are strongly encouraged to apply to the M.A. program before entering the Ph.D. program.
  • Preferred qualifications:
    • Related graduate degrees in psychology.
    • A minimum GPA of 3.0.
    • Minimum scores corresponding to the 50th percentile on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE.
  • Other criteria taken into consideration include letters of reference, research activity, work experience, social and professional skills and the extent to which the applicant's interests match the program.

Program requirements

Competency I: Organizational behavior management core (24 credits)

  • PSY 5400: Psychology of Safety. The purpose of this course is to teach students about current research and trends in the psychology of safety. Students review, critically analyze and discuss current trends in safety research, including behavior-based safety, injury/illness prevention and other relevant topics. Students receive training in the application of behavioral principles to solve specific safety problems in organizations through changing behavior and improving performance.
  • PSY 5490: Instructional Design. This course will cover the basic principles and techniques of effective instruction and training as applied to a wide variety of settings, including K-12 education, higher education and personnel training.
  • PSY 6430: Personnel Selection and Placement. This course teaches students the legal requirements for personnel selection systems, and how to design and evaluate the adequacy (reliability and validity) of personnel selection and placement instruments.
  • PSY 6440: Personnel Training and Development. This course emphasizes the principles of behavior analysis as they apply to learning as well as techniques and administrative procedures used in the development of human resources at all levels.
  • PSY 6450: Psychology of Work. This course examines human behavior in organizations from a behavioral psychology perspective. Topics include: the history of industrial/organizational psychology, work motivation, performance analysis, work measurement systems, goal setting, feedback, and management reward systems.
  • PSY 6510: Behavioral Systems Analysis. This course trains students to apply behavioral systems analysis concepts to the design of systems which yield objective measures of critical organizational business indices.
  • PSY 6520: Systems Analysis Practicum. This course trains students to integrate behavior analysis and systems analysis to design, create, and manage human performance systems. Students complete a systems analysis project in a local organization.

Competency II: Behavior analysis core (nine credits)

  • PSY 6100: Experimental Analysis of Behavior. This course surveys the concepts and principles of behavior analysis and respondent conditioning, and behavioral applications and research.
  • PSY 6110: Current Research in Experimental Analysis. This course examines basic research areas of current interest to behavior analysts. A central component of the course is detailed consideration of articles published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.
  • PSY 6760: Skinner's Behaviorism. This course examines the historical background, substance, and methodology of B. F. Skinner’s behaviorism. The broad scientific, philosophic, and social significance of his works will be considered.

Competency III: Research and ethics (12 credits)

  • PSY 6050: Professional and Research Ethics. This course is designed to introduce advanced students of Psychology to many of the standards and contemporary issues affecting professional conduct. The topics to be covered revolve around ethical conduct in practice and research as well as the decision-making foundations for resolving ethical issues. Also addressed will be selected legal issues affecting professional practice.
  • PSY 6080: Research Methods in ABA. This course examines research methodology and strategies, emphasizing the areas of measurement, reliability, and single subject research. Students are required to write a research proposal that conforms to the American Psychological Association style.  In addition, several areas of current research in behavior analysis will be studied.
  • PSY 6340: Experimental Design and Analysis I. Topics in this course include statistical decision theory, one factor analysis of variance, multiple comparison procedures, factorial designs, randomized block designs, and basic issues in experimental design.
  • PSY 6350: Correlation and Regression Analysis: An advanced course covering simple correlation methods, inferential methods for one or many correlations (including meta-analysis), interpretation issues (including sampling error, sampling bias, scaling error, measurement error, functional form, cause and homoscedasticity) variants of and alternatives to Pearson correlation, multiple correlation and regression, part and partial correlation, analysis of variance of regression for simple and complex models, model comparison procedures, methods for nonlinear data (including polynomial regression and logistic regression models) and regression diagnostics

Competency IV: Master's thesis (six credits)

  • PSY 7000: Master’s Thesis. The student completes a research thesis of publishable quality.  A written proposal must be approved in advance by the student's three-person committee and an oral defense of the final written thesis is required.

Competency V: Doctoral dissertation (12 credits)

  • PSY 7300: Doctoral Dissertation. The student completes a research dissertation of publishable quality. A written proposal must be approved in advance by the student's four-person committee (including an external committee member) and an oral defense of the final written dissertation is required. The student must also successfully pass a research-based competency examination prior to the oral defense of the dissertation.

Competency VI: Approved electives (15 credits)

Electives should be approved in advance by the student's advisor. Students may take courses in the Department of Psychology or in other departments. Three to six elective credits should come from practicum experiences (not counted in Competencies I) and nine to twelve elective credits should come from coursework (not counted in Competencies I-V). Potential courses listed below, although alternatives may be acceptable in consultation with graduate advisor:

  • PSY 5470 Practicum—Organizational Performance Improvement
  • PSY 5980 Special Projects in Psychology
  • PSY 5990 Practicum in Psychology
  • PSY 6090 Advanced Seminar in Applied Behavior Analysis Research
  • PSY 6360 Experimental Design and Analysis II
  • PSY 6370 Design and Analysis of Quasi-Experimental and Observational Studies
  • PSY 6470 Seminar: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 6484: Psychological Foundations of Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • PSY 6494 Advanced Instructional Design and Training Practicum
  • PSY 6740 Verbal Behavior
  • PSY 6900 Behavioral Approaches to College Education
  • PSY 6910 College Teaching Practicum
  • PSY 6920 Grant Writing in the Behavioral Sciences
  • PSY 6970 Advanced Topical Studies in Psychology (must have advisor approval)
  • PSY 7100 Independent Research 
  • ACTY 6010 Accountancy
  • MGMT 6140 Business Process Management
  • MGMT 6200 Enterprise Requirements Planning System Configuration
  • MGMT 6410 Business Venturing 
  • MGMT 6500 Managing Change
  • MGMT 6520 Strategic Human Resource Management
  • OLP 6400 Principles of Human Resources Development
  • OLP 6430 Project Management in Human Resources Development

Competency VI: Research tools

  • Research methods combination: PSY 6080 and PSY 6110
  • Statistics combination: PSY 6340 and PSY 6350

Competency VII: Professional and scholarly activity

  • You will complete a six-hour examination prepared by your doctoral committee. Define the area of study in consultation with your advisor and dissertation committee. As an alternative, you can publish a first-authored article or prepare and submit a grant proposal. These activities will be approved by faculty members.